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House panel rejects funding for integrated case system at Justice

The House Appropriations Committee withheld $42.2 million from the Justice Department's 2010 budget request for deploying the Litigation Case Management System, which a March report by the Justice inspector general called "significantly behind schedule, over budget and at significant risk of not meeting the department's long-term enterprise litigation case management."

The Appropriations Committee agreed, saying in its report on the 2010 appropriations bill the system had reached the stage where it posed a "significant risk of failing to meet the department's expectations and requirements." The committee approved the legislation, which funds the Commerce and Justice departments, on June 25.

The House panel said it would reconsider its decision to cut the funding if Justice follows through on the IG's recommendations for fixing the program and submits a report detailing steps taken to contain cost and schedule overruns.

Justice's litigation arms, including the criminal, civil rights and tax divisions, use separate case management systems, and another serves U.S. attorneys nationwide. According to the IG report, Justice supports seven separate case management systems, which inhibits collaboration and data sharing and costs millions of dollars a year to operate.

To save money and boost information sharing and efficiency, Justice awarded Computer Sciences Corp. a $42 million contract in 2006 to develop a single integrated litigation case management system. The department planned deployment at U.S. attorney offices by March 2008, followed by installation in the six litigation divisions by December 2010.

Due to a variety of problems, the system would not go live at U.S attorneys offices until July 2010, the inspector general report said, more than two years behind schedule. The report said that phase of the project would cost $61 million, which is $18 million more than the original price tag for the entire departmentwide system. Justice no longer plans to roll out the system to the litigation divisions.

Justice has been trying to develop a departmentwide case management system for the past 28 years. In 1982, it awarded a $9.6 million contract to Inslaw Inc., a small Washington company, to deploy a case management system called Promis at 22 U.S. attorneys offices. The contract became embroiled in a series of controversies, including allegations by the company that Justice appropriated its software without payment and provided it to Israeli intelligence agencies. Justice then withheld payment to Inslaw, which filed for bankruptcy in 1985.

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